A Guest Post by a friend of mine, Lisa Hwang
Friday, February 4th is “National Wear Red” day, promoted by the American Heart Association. In the past, this day has come and gone without any particular significance for me. This year is different. You see, my dad had a major heart attack in May that left him on life support for several weeks. But I am one of the lucky ones – my dad survived. He is still working on recovering from his “heart adventure”, but is getting stronger every day. I am very proud of him – I always have been. I am elated my dad will be here to walk my little sister (Okay, she’s 30 – don’t tell her I told you.) down the aisle in a few weeks.
Now…my dad was only 56 years old. He wasn’t a “nut and berry” type of eater, but watched his weight, ate well, and exercised moderately…he wasn’t your typical heart attack victim. He regularly visited his general practioner, but not a cardiologist. It was a shock to see my healthy, vibrant dad suddenly so, so sick.
While lots of my friends know about my dad, many do not know about my aunt – my dad’s sister. She had her first heart attack a year prior to my dad at the age of 47. She also survived her heart attack and has made important changes in her life to improve her health.
So…it is clear to me that heart disease is in my bloodline. I am 33 years old. I am a mother to my two-year-old daughter and am expecting my second daughter in July. I am married to my high school sweetheart and have no plans to leave this earth in the next 15 years, God willing. So what am I doing to keep myself heart-healthy?
First, I went and saw a cardiologist. I had my cholesterol and blood sugar checked. I also had a non-invasive ultrasound of the carotid arteries in my neck to check for early plaque build up. I paid about $200 out-of-pocket for these services since it is strangely not considered “preventive” for my age bracket – whatever, it was worth it for me to pay. I pay attention to the amount of sodium we eat. I try to have at least one “veggie” on my plate for every meal. I drink lots of water and I exercise. Like most mothers of young children, I am constantly learning how to fit consistent and effective exercise into my day. Some weeks are better than others, but my reason for doing so is greater than looking better in my jeans – I have other genes I am battling.
Secondly, I am now involved with my local chapter of the American Heart Association (AHA). We are working to spread awareness about heart disease, particularly in women.
Here are some startling facts I learned from the AHA:
- Heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women, taking the life of 1 in 3 women each year.
- More women die of heart disease than the next 4 causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer.
- 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- 80% of cardiac events in women may be prevented with heart-healthy decision-making.
So, what can you do to help prevent heart disease?
- Wear red on Friday, February 4th to promote awareness
- Make healthy decisions (eat well, move more, stop smoking/reduce alcohol)
- Know your numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose)
- If you live in the Puget Sound area, come to a “Go Red Connect” event on Saturday, February 5th at Macy’s in Bellevue Square. I will be there. Come say hi! I’d love to see some friendly faces!
- Visit the “Go Red for Women” website at www.goredforwomen.org. There are TONS of resources there and you can register for your red dress pin to support the cause!
- Lastly, tell a friend. By sharing our stories with each other, we may be able to change a life.
Wishing you a heart healthy day,
Lisa is a member of the Local MOMS Club chapter near where I live. She is on the board of MOMS Club as the Newspaper editor, and as she mentioned above a member of the local chapter of the American Heart Association. As an ambassador for the local chapter of American Heart Association she is educating others on the importance of getting regular health checks.